Nassau comptroller: Nonprofit workers underpaid

Nassau Comptroller George Maragos at his office in Nassau Comptroller George Maragos at his office in Mineola. (July 13, 2012) Photo Credit: Steve Pfost

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A nonprofit company that provides emergency shelter to the homeless violated Nassau County's living-wage law by underpaying 26 of its employees by a total of more than $120,000, County Comptroller George Maragos said Tuesday.

Peace Valley Haven, of Hempstead, was paying hourly rates that were lower than those mandated by the law, which is now $14.91 an hour without health benefits or $13.11 with them, Maragos' audit said.

"These employees provide a crucial service to our most needy and deserve to be paid fairly according to our law," said Maragos. "I am pleased that the company has agreed to reimburse the affected employees for their lost wages."

Maragos said the 2010 pay of the affected employees ranged from $9.38 an hour to $12.02 an hour, instead of the $13.10 they were due. For 2011, the pay ranged from $9.60 an hour to $10.60 an hour instead of the required $14.16 an hour. None of the 26 accepted health care.

In a written response to the audit, Daphne Haynes, executive director of Peace Valley, acknowledged underpaying employees during 2010 and 2011, the years of the audit, because of "an oversight on our part."

After the audit, Peace Valley offered to pay at least $100 a month to each underpaid employee until they were paid up, Maragos said. "They should be paid as expeditiously as possible."

The affected employees consisted primarily of house managers and clerical staff.

The Nassau County Living Wage Law was enacted by the county legislature in 2006 to raise the minimum wage of county employees and employees working for most of the county's contractors.

The comptroller's office is responsible for monitoring compliance with the law.

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